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In any strategic planning session you are likely to hear the phrase "two heads are better than one" ... or the power of many minds is much more powerful than any one mind.

One of the "relatively" recent concepts being used in business and other contexts is the concept of Crowd Sourcing, which marries the above concept together with the power of the internet (typically in a Web 2.0 context). Basically an online way in which to gather input and ideas from people around the world.

It was extremely interesting to see that British Petroleum engaged this concept as they sought to find ways to (a) stem the flow of oil in the Gulf and (b) address the containment and clean-up of the spill. In fact there seem to be a number of sites offering suggestions about how to address these problems is one of those sites. I did read they had received literally thousands of responses ranging from rants about the company to very credible and interesting ideas.

BP is just one example of how this concept is working ... Innocentive is an interesting website that seeks to harness the brainpower of people with answers from around the world, to solve specific problems that they define. There is an opportunity for people to earn money for their ideas and for organizations to solve their business, not for profit or academic problems.

I looked up Crowdsourcing in Wikipedia and it was clearly written by someone looking to impress with their use of "creative" words, but as you read through the whole piece there are lots of interesting pieces of information. There is even a list of recent examples of crowdsourcing projects.

I would imagine that many businesses may take advantage of this phenomena over the years and the collective brainpower might well lead to reinvention of companies and industries.

Something to watch ... maybe even something to try out!